MASON CITY, Iowa – It was an opportunity one north Iowa native could not pass up to give her mother the surprise of a lifetime.
For many people, this past holiday weekend was a chance to catch up with friends, family and enjoy some time off, but this wasn’t what you would call a normal weekend for the Weydert family.
“My head was buried in her shoulder and I was shaking. I didn’t see anything and everybody was like, did you see this, did you hear that, and no I didn’t see anything,” said Nichole Weydert.
Nichole was surprised to see her Marine daughter on a float during Mason City’s Band Festival.
The float stopped right at her doorstep along the parade route and that’s when she couldn’t believe her eyes.
“Actually, what I saw first was her camouflage bag.Then when I recognized that, I saw her, saw she had gotten a haircut and it just startled me. I just ran, took my shoes off, and I ran that’s all I remember,” said Weydert.
Knowing her mother would never expect her home, Matraeca decided to plan the ultimate surprise, one veteran to another and the moment was all caught on tape.
“I just thought it would be so neat for me to do that for my family and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity. When I was coming home, I just knew that she wouldn’t see it coming,” said Matraeca Weydert.
Who could blame her.
Not only was this the first time she’s seen her daughter with a new look, but also walking on her own.
After enlisting in the Marines, Matraeca was given her mandatory vaccines.
She later had a reaction to her flu vaccine and developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
It’s a disorder where your body’s immune system attacks your nerves.
Matraeca was disabled from the chest down and had no promise of a full recovery.
“I had to learn how to walk all over again. I was in a wheelchair for about two months and I wasn’t sure if I was ever to walk again,” said Matraeca.
“She has been through a lot in the short months she’s been gone, and there’s nothing else that she could ever do that would make me more proud of her,” said Nichole.
After months of recovery at the Medical University of South Carolina, Matraeca would receive a medical retirement, and a trip home.
Although she may not have reached as far as she hoped in her military service, she’s already won one battle.
“I didn’t get to go far in my career in the military like I wanted to but, just knowing that I tried just like they did, I’m proud,” said Matraeca.
Matraeca says she always planned on making a career out of the military, but now she has her eyes set on attending college.
She says she doesn’t know yet what field she’ll pursue but hopes to begin as soon as she can.